Not everyone understands what an informational interview is and how this can be used to enhance your job search. For this reason, I am going to break this down for you and explain how connecting with other professional in your field can assist you in your job search efforts and can ultimately help you to secure a job.
What is an informational interview?
Very simply-an informational interview is when YOU interview someone in a position of interest and ask them questions about their profession or the industry so that you can better gauge whether there is a fit for you and/or whether you have the qualifications necessary to get hired. Conducting informational interviews is especially important if you are not getting any call backs from jobs, are entering a new profession or are new to the city and need to build connections with people who have inside information about the role you are interested in.
The best career advice you will ever get are from people working in the job(s) you want.
Before setting up your next informational interview, you MUST READ my other blog post entitled Seven Things to Know Before Setting up an Informational Interview to avoid informational interview pitfalls.
What questions should I ask?
Before embarking on your interview, it is important for you to plan ahead and compile a list of questions to ask. People often ask me: what questions should I ask in my informational interview? Although there are certainly some key questions to ask, what I often tell people is to just to sit back, grab a coffee and your laptop and write down all the questions you have about the industry you want to enter. The whole reason you are setting up this meeting is because you have a growth mindset (see my other blog post) and want to learn more about the industry and how to get a job. Envision yourself walking away from the informational interview having a clearer picture on what it takes to work at that company, in that industry, etc. These natural curiosities will help you compile a list of questions. If you are still having trouble thinking of questions-here are some winners:
- Is there any niche training I could take that would increase my prospects of working in this sector?
- What does a typical day look like for you at work?
- What do you love most about your job?
- What do you find most challenging about this work?
- What three skills do you think are most important when considering this as a career?
- What experience or qualifications helped you to secure a job with this company?
- Do you know of anyone else working in this industry that may be open to me conducting an informational interview with them?
Here is another great resource for people who want a list a great questions. See 200 Informational Interview Questions to Ask.
How should I find people to connect with?
I am a huge advocate of using LinkedIn to locate professionals in your field. There are so many excellent tools offered by LinkedIn which will narrow down your search criteria. Whether you search for people by industry, company, city, college of university-there are tons of options. See this article for 8 LinkedIn Tools to Build Your Network.
Other ways to connect with professionals in your field is to simply walk into businesses and make a request to a manager/supervisor or to cold call companies of interest to see if there is anyone who would be gracious enough to sit down with you.
I know some of these approaches can seem daunting, but nothing ventured nothing gained. Rejection is part of this process and if you have never developed a thick skin-now is the time.
The information and connections you will make conducting informational interviews far exceeds the fear and discomfort of being rejected.
How will this help me in my job search?
Did you know that when an employer needs to hire a new candidate that their last resort is to post a job advertisement? For most employers they would much rather network or obtain referrals or recommendations before having to make a public post. Did you also know that many employers offer employee incentives if they refer a candidate and they are subsequently hired?
Now, imagine that you have were asked a month or so ago to sit down with a curious new grad who wanted to conduct an informational interview so that he could learn more about your industry. This new grad made a great first impression on you as he was well prepared for the meeting. He not only asked great questions, but had some solid work experience, a warm personality and was exceptionally respectful of your time (this is why it is important to stick to the time you requested).
So, when the boss asks the staff whether they know of anyone who may be a fit for the role – why wouldn’t you consider recommending this new grad?
If he turns out to be a great hire this makes YOU look good and also could result in a bonus for you!
Informational interviews not only benefit you from the information gained during the Q &A period but also because you become part of the interviewee’s network. This is a win-win for both parties.
So, put your fears aside and start connecting with other professionals in your field. The pay off is huge!!
Feel free to email me if you have any questions about informational interview. See firstname.lastname@example.org